Naltrexone Treatment for Opioid and Alcohol Use Disorders
Many people across the country suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs), such as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD). Substance use disorders are treatable, and there are several treatment approaches that can be used to help you recover from addiction, including medications like naltrexone treatment.
Naltrexone is an addiction treatment medication that can be used to treat both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1
This article will review what naltrexone is, how it is used to treat OUD and AUD, and how naltrexone may be included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
What is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is an FDA-approved treatment medication that is used to treat AUD and OUD and is considered a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option.1 It is an opioid antagonist medication, which means it blocks and binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, preventing the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids and alcohol.1, 2
Additional characteristics of naltrexone include:1
- It is not addictive.
- It will not result in withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.
- It is not an opioid.
- There is no risk of misuse when undergoing naltrexone treatment.
- It suppresses and decreases cravings for opioids and alcohol.
- It is available by prescription from a licensed medical provider.
The extended-release injectable form of naltrexone is known by the brand name Vivitrol.3 Vivitrol for alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder is approved by the FDA and should be provided as part of an individualized treatment plan.3
Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder
Naltrexone can provide several benefits for people struggling with opioid use disorder like lessening a person’s discomfort during opioid withdrawal, helping to prevent relapse, and longer-term management of OUD.2
Other treatment medications for OUD like methadone and buprenorphine can be useful; however, naltrexone is unique in that it has no:4
- Abuse potential.
- Sedative effects.
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.
- Risk of respiratory depression.
However, naltrexone treatment should only begin after a person has been abstinent from opioids for at least 7 days after the last use of short-acting opioids, and at least 14 days after the last use of long-acting opioids.1, 4
You should not use naltrexone if you are using opioids or prescription medication containing opioids or are experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.1
Naltrexone for Alcohol Use Disorder
Naltrexone for alcohol use disorder prohibits the effects of alcohol by binding to the endorphin receptors in the body and can reduce alcohol cravings.1 You should wait until the alcohol is out of your system before taking naltrexone to avoid side effects such as vomiting and nausea.1
For the treatment of alcohol addiction, naltrexone is available in both the oral tablet form and in the extended-release injection.1
Find Naltrexone Treatment
Naltrexone treatment can be administered in several different settings, including inpatient and outpatient environments. Your dose and method of administration will depend on factors specific to you, such as your history of substance use and other individual factors. If you are taking naltrexone, it’s important to continue to have your prescription and treatment plan reevaluated to make sure you’re receiving proper treatment.
If you are struggling with AUD, naltrexone injection or oral tablet is available. If you are struggling with OUD, intramuscular administration of naltrexone is available.1 Naltrexone is prescribed by a doctor and administered in an office setting on a weekly to monthly basis.4
You, your doctor, and/or treatment team will determine if naltrexone is right for you. Naltrexone is used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address substance use disorders; it is not a standalone treatment.1 Combined with psychotherapy and other interventions, naltrexone may be able to help treat your addiction to alcohol or opioids.1
How Much Does Naltrexone Cost?
The cost of naltrexone will vary depending on several factors and may be covered by your health insurance plan.6, 7 Medicaid may also cover the cost of naltrexone treatment and MAT for AUD or OUD. The cost of a naltrexone injection versus a naltrexone pill may also carry different costs.6, 8
If you are struggling with alcohol or opioid use disorder, getting treatment is an important step in finding recovery. To learn about treatment options, call American Addiction Centers at to speak with a compassionate admissions navigator who can answer your questions 24 hours a day. They can also help you check insurance at our facilities.